Giving birth is completely life changing and can result in a difficult recovery for a lot of women – both physically and mentally. So why on earth do they discharge us so early? I reckon all new mums should get the option to stay at least two or more weeks in hospital after giving birth and here’s why.
It used to happen
In the 1970s in Australia new mums who’d just had a baby stayed in hospital for seven to 14 days. This duration started to decline in the 80s and 90s and now the average maternity hospital stay is three days for public patients and five days for those in private. While we do have it better than UK mums, who on average are discharged after only six hours, I still don’t think it is enough.
It would help with recovery
I literally cried when I was told I had to leave several days after giving birth vaginally to my second son. I had sustained a lot of damage from the birth that required further treatment in the hospital. I also had a young toddler at home to look after while my husband was at work. Even an extra few days of being able to use the night nursery while I got more much needed rest to help heal would have made such a difference to my physical recovery, and made it easier to transition into life as a mum of two. My first and third born were both delivered by caesarean, which meant I was allowed to stay a bit longer but even then, it is major surgery and I’m sure an even longer stay in hospital would have helped my wound heal faster and prevented the infection I got once I returned home.
It might save the government money
I realise that women are sent home to free up hospital beds for others and that it costs the government money to keep women in hospital longer – even with private health insurance – but it could actually save them more money to keep us in a few extra days. Taking into account the number or women and newborns who return to hospital with health complications such as recurring bleeding and mastitis. Longer hospital stays may even lower the rates of post-natal depression and other mental health conditions. It might even lessen the need for as much at home assistance from lactation consultants, midwives and Tresillian nurses.
It would help new parents
Parenthood is a steep learning curve and your time in hospital allows you to ask questions easily, attend education classes, get assistance with tasks such as breastfeeding and take advantage of the night nursery. Some new mums can be prone to anxiety or suffer post-traumatic stress if the birth was particularly difficult; simply having more time to process the delivery, their new role as a mother, and asking for help if they need it could be very beneficial. A lot of women can suddenly feel extremely isolated and overwhelmed once they return home, especially if they don’t have a lot of family support. Getting all the help they can in the early days could make a huge difference.
It gives mum a break
You’ve just carried a baby for over nine months, your body has gone through a lot! New mums need to rest and not worry about having to do things like cleaning and cooking, but not many of us have the luxury of hired help at home or live-in family members to lighten the load. Staying in hospital longer means at least a few more days of someone else bringing you meals and washing the sheets – a major perk for anyone who’s just given birth, especially if you have other kids at home. With my third son I relished every second of it, knowing what I was up against when I got home even with a hubby who helps out.
Other countries have longer care
Many countries around the world offer women longer hospital stays after birth, while others have cultural traditions which offer new mums more community support, so why don’t we?! Take Japan for example, the average maternity hospital stay is five days for a vaginal delivery and 10 days for a c-section, and then when the mum goes home she stays with her mother or another family member. The new mum and her bub don’t even have to leave their bed for a further 21 days while friends and family members drop by with their well wishes. How amazing is that? Sounds pretty darn smart to me. While many women don’t need the benefits and extra care from being in hospital longer, a large majority do (even if they don’t realise it). So yes, I think it’s time for Australia to step up and help out all the new mums. We deserve it!
Do you think it’s a good idea to let women stay longer in hospital after giving birth?